I loved the book Emma and the movie version starring Gwyneth Paltrow as a young woman who, after successfully making one match between her governess and a local gentleman, decides that she must have a talent for it, and continues to try with somewhat disastrous results for people she cares about. When I first saw the movie I could somewhat relate: I too had had one success (albeit unwittingly), which gave me a somewhat over-inflated ego in that area for a while and made me want to keep trying for matches among my friends and acquaintances. Yes, I did have good motives, and fortunately nothing as drastic happened to those of my acquaintance as did to Emma’s friends, but nothing great happened, either.
So, what is it that can make a good matchmaker? Matchmakers seem to be an up and coming phenomenon of sorts in the LDS world and elsewhere, similar to the matchmaker in “Fiddler on the Roof” but with a bit more leeway and much less parental involvement. When I became aware of matchmaker Jill Stephens, I was already fleetingly familiar with a Utah area matchmaker as well as dating coach Alisa Goodwin Snell, so I decided to ask her what the benefits are to using a matchmaker in lieu of the average online dating site or “going it alone” in the local singles seen, or even getting set up by family and friends. I also asked her what she thinks the biggest challenges are that singles today have to face.
Here’s just some of what Jill had to say:
• Geography is a big challenge for those who are LDS. Because so many would prefer someone of the same faith, it can be hard to find someone who is close by and who could be compatible.
• People are looking too much for perfection, whether it’s in themselves or in a companion.
• As far as inspiration is concerned, people just want to be told who they’re supposed to be with, (a lightning bolt, per se) but it doesn’t necessarily work that way. We are counseled to date (this applies both to LDS and not) but sometimes we don’t want to put the work and effort in (editor’s note: especially if we’ve been doing it for years). Go into it without expectations, wanting to get to know people and form friendships because that will lead to a bigger and better ending.
• Again, everyone has their own challenges that they’re facing, but one of the biggest ones is not having people near to date, or the resources to find what you’re looking for.
• Someone you’re dating can be a good person, but not necessarily highlight what is good in you, and vice versa.
• Don’t force a relationship if it’s not natural.
• Then, after you do your part, you can pray to see if this relationship you’re in is something Heavenly Father approves of.
• People can use help from an unbiased person when working on themselves and their dating skills. Swallowing your pride can be easier with a hired matchmaker than it is from friends who may have hidden agendas (though loving they may seem).
• Online, you can end up meeting a lot of jerks. (so true) Going through an actual person/matchmaker, you can bypass that because the matchmaker with sift through people for you.
A little about Jill:
Q: what made you decide to become a matchmaker?
J: I had introduced friends in the past who ended up getting married, and then I kept finding out about others who said I’d had a hand in them getting together without realizing it. Then over the summer I was in the audience for a show that airs in March called “Ready for Love” and I realized I shared a lot of the same thought processes and talents as the matchmakers on the show: I was dying to jump on the stage and give advice.
Q: Who do you plan to serve as a matchmaker: just locals? What area?
J: I want to help clients who are both LDS and not LDS. Everyone needs help, and I don’t want to exclude anyone. Also, although I’m located in Los Angeles, I don’t plan on limiting my business geographically.
Q: I thought people might like to hear a little more about you personally. Where are you from, and where have you lived? I loved the post you had on your Facebook about moving to L.A.: “People always ask if LA is a culture shock. What they don’t realize is that I’ve lived around rednecks all my life: it doesn’t get more shocking then that.” (She recently moved to the L.A. area.)
J: I’m originally from Athens, Georgia (college town) but spent a lot of time in Atlanta, claim Athens as home, and moved back there at age 18. My father was in the Navy, so we moved all over the place.
Q: What is one of the funniest things that’s happened to you in your dating experiences?
J: I went on a blind date once and the guy wore a shirt with a naked mermaid on it. We met at a neutral place and he informed me he needed to relieve himself so I told him he could go in the building we met at. Instead, he decided to run over to the bushes. Later he called a friend who had just gotten married and asked if he had gotten any action. Anyone who knows me would know that didn’t sit well and I told him so. Oh, and there was a house on the other side of the bushes!
Q: What other tips and advice do you have for singles? Would there be anything specific to the men or the women?
J: There are small things that can be done to make relationships better. Selfishness usually breaks up marriages. As for dating, both women and men: don’t be too aggressive. Guys who just jump out of the woodwork, be careful! (Get to know her first.) You may come on too strong at first. (As for women), you don’t have to ask the guy out, but do help him feel like he came up with the idea.
I personally find the idea of using a matchmaker intriguing. I know so many singles who work so much and end up feeling too tired at the end of the day for social activities. And, though many of my acquaintance have met their spouses on dating sites, most admit that you have to deal with some interesting situations to get there. Perhaps for a lot of you out there, using a matchmaker could give you that extra boost without the extra headache of cyber dating.
Jill is running a special right now: $100 for a 6 month membership, which doesn’t start until she starts finding you matches. In other words, it won’t start until she has people for you to date.* This deal is for everyone, not just those who are LDS, but you can definitely specify that you only want to date those who are LDS. I hope some of you take advantage of it!
You can get a hold of Jill on her business’ Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/LetsMakeAMatch
*These are options of people you can go out with. The fee starts whether or not you decide to go out with them.